The act of being environmentally conscious can seem daunting – after all, it can feel like the entire world is operating on systems that don't prioritize the health and sustainability of our planet.
However, there are many small changes that you can make in your daily life to help reduce your environmental impact and protect future generations.
In this article, we'll discuss a few simple ways to start living more sustainably today.
1. Become a Compost Champion
Composting is one of the easiest ways to reduce your waste and recycle organic materials like food scraps, leaves, and even paper towels – this process helps prevent these items from ending up in landfills where they can produce harmful greenhouse gases. If you don't have a backyard area or adequate space for a compost bin, consider starting a worm compost instead! These little critters do all the hard work for you: their castings (a.k.a., droppings) are highly rich in nutrients that plants love and make excellent fertilizer.
Or simply don't want the hassle of setting up a compost pile at home, consider joining a food scraps drop-off program instead. These programs collect organic materials and turn them into valuable compost for farmers, or use them to make biogas that can be used as fuel. While some programs are limited to certain geographical areas and available only in the colder months, many cities have a pick-up service that's open year-round – just do a quick web search to find yours!
2. Recycle or Compost Electronics
Electronic waste, aka eWaste, is one of the fastest-growing categories of waste today, thanks largely to our ever-growing collection of smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets. Recycling electronics not only helps keep them out of landfills and prevents toxic chemicals from poisoning the environment, but also keeps valuable materials like copper, aluminum, and gold from ending up in our oceans.
3. Walk and Bike Whenever Possible
Whether it's to get around town or just to run some errands, walking and biking are great ways to get some exercise while also reducing air pollution and saving money on gas. Not only do these practices cut back on individual car use overall, but they also help you live a healthier lifestyle – and what could be greener than that?
4. Opt for Alternative Energy
There are several ways to get your electricity from renewable sources – you don't have to live in an area with wind turbines or solar panels to do so!
If you're looking for something besides utility-provided energy, consider joining a community solar project, or use a service like Arcadia Power to match your home's electricity use with clean energy sources. These options can help you reduce your carbon emissions and support the growth of renewable energy – which is good news for everyone!
5. Switch to Eco-friendly Kitchen Dish Soap Alternatives
Our kitchens are packed with dozens of potentially toxic chemicals – and dish soap is no exception! Did you know that many commonly-used dish soaps contain harsh ingredients like synthetic fragrances, dyes, and preservatives? Choosing eco-friendly alternatives not only helps keep these chemicals out of your home and our waterways, but it also ensures that you're using products that won't harm your skin and eyes. Looking for a simple switch to make today?
Check out these 7 eco-friendly kitchen dishwashing soaps for more sustainable living here.
6. Store Food in Glass or Beeswax In Lieu of Plastic
The vast majority of our modern food storage products are plastic-based, and these products can take a lot of time to break down in landfills – not to mention the fact that many plastics contain harmful chemicals that can seep into our food and cause long-term health problems.
Opt for glass or beeswax containers when possible, and avoid using disposable plastic wrap altogether. Glass and beeswax are safer, healthier, and more sustainable alternatives.
7. Buy Local, Organic Food and Grow Your Own
The average American meal travels over 1500 miles to get from the farm to your plate. Buying locally grown and organic food not only reduces this kind of transportation pollution (and saves money!), but also supports farmers who use sustainable growing practices that protect wildlife habitats, conserve water, and prevent soil erosion.
And if you've got some free time on your hands, consider planting a backyard garden – although it takes a bit of work to start out, growing at least some of your own produce can be incredibly rewarding and will help cut down on the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced by faraway farms.
8. Don't Take Plastic Bags
If you're shopping for groceries at your local supermarket, bring reusable cloth grocery bags with you instead of using disposable plastic ones.
Reusable bags are sturdy enough to hold a week's worth of food shopping without breaking apart on you, and they're also a popular way to promote your business or event. You can purchase these bags in bulk from any number of online retailers that specialize in promotional products
9. Prepare Your Own Meals at Home
One of the best ways to reduce your environmental impact is to prepare your own meals at home as much as possible. By cutting out restaurant or takeout meals, you can significantly reduce your food waste and packaging usage, and also save money in the process.
At home, you can use reusable containers to store food and leftovers, choose environmentally friendly cooking methods like using a pressure cooker or an air fryer instead of an oven, and buy fresh produce that has been locally sourced whenever possible.
Additionally, preparing your own meals allows you more control over what goes into them – so you can avoid ingredients like MSG and high-fructose corn syrup that are often found in processed foods. Whether you live alone or have a family to cook for, cooking your own meals is one of the best ways to enjoy a healthier lifestyle and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time.
10. Install a Low-Flow Showerhead
Installing a low-flow showerhead is one of the easiest ways to significantly reduce your household water use without dramatically changing your daily routine. While many people think that water conservation is something that only Californians need to worry about, water shortages are actually an issue for most of the United States. Installing a low-flow shower head will decrease how much water you use (and waste) each day – so you'll not only help save the environment and protect future generations, but you'll also save money on your water bill in the process!